PennPIRG Education Fund
Ashley Afranie-Sakyi PennPIRG Program Associate
Office: (215) 732-3747
New Report Shows Pennsylvanians Are Driving Less
Pennsylvanians’ Driving Is Down 10.4 Percent, Ahead of National Trend
PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvanians have cut their per-person driving miles by 10.4 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from PennPIRG. This decline is significantly higher than the national average of 6.87%. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states and the District of Columbia to have a double digit reduction in per-person driving miles.
“In Pennsylvania, driving miles are down, just as they are in almost every state – only more said Ashley Afranie-Sakyi, Program Associate for PennPIRG. “It’s time for policy makers to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. We need to reconsider expensive highway expansions and focus on alternatives such as public transit and biking—which people increasingly use to get around.”
The report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving,” is based on the most current available government data. Among its findings:
- In Pennsylvania, people have reduced their driving miles by 11.0 percent per person since 2007. That is a decrease of over 950 miles annually per-person.
- This decline in driving is a national trend. Forty-five other states have reduced per-person driving since the middle of the last decade.
- After World War II, the nation’s driving miles increased steadily almost every year, creating a “driving boom.” Driven by the growth of the suburbs, low gas prices, and increased auto ownership, the boom lasted 60 years. Now, in stark contrast, the average number of miles driven by Americans is in its eight consecutive year of decline, led by declines among Millennials.
The states with the biggest reductions in driving miles generally were not the states hit hardest by the economic downturn. The majority—almost three-quarters—of the states where per-person driving miles declined more quickly than the national average actually saw smaller increases in unemployment compared to the rest of the nation.
Pennsylvanians drive more that New Yorkers and less than people from New Jersey however we are reducing how much we drive more rapidly
“The results of this report are encouraging and make clear that we need to continue the fight for an increase in funding for public transportation” said State Representative Tim Briggs PA-149.
While there is a large decrease in how much Pennsylvanians are driving, taxpayer money is being spent without consideration for the needs of Commonwealth citizens. A project to widen 6.2 miles of U.S. 202 was initiated in 2011. Money that could be better spent addressing the public transportation needs of Pennsylvanians.
“Our nation’s transport needs are changing and Americans now want to live closer to work, drive less and have options to driving,” said Bob Previdi, a former Planner at NYC Transit and spokesman for the City Council in Philadelphia. “Young people would much rather work on their lap top then listen to traffic reports and the ridership of every public transit agency from SEPTA to Amtrak is up. It is time for Pennsylvania legislators to acknowledge this trend and support it”
The decrease in driving cannot simply be attributed to the economic conditions in Pennsylvania. While there has been an increase in the unemployment rate, it does not keep pace with the large decrease in vehicle miles travelled per person in Pennsylvania.
“Given these trends, we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy,” said Afranie-Sakyi. “Just because past transportation investments overwhelmingly went to highway construction, doesn’t mean that continues to be the right choice for Pennsylvania’s future.”
Download the report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis on the National Decline in Driving.” http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/moving-road
Download the infographic we created to illustrate the end of the Driving Boom. http://uspirg.org/resources/usp/new-direction-driving-trends
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The PennPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.pennpirgedfund.org